Brazilian activist Marielle Franco was honored with a mural in Lisbon by Portuguese author Vhils, who leaves the stone “for ever the memory of a human rights defender who paid for her work with her life.”
The mural where Vhils carved the face of Marielle Franco, murdered in March in Rio de Janeiro, is part of the ‘Brave Walls’ project of the human rights organization Amnesty International.
“At this point [in] so much talk about walls to separate people, we are using the walls to express art and human rights, union, and be a world where walls are only used for art, but never for separate people, “Amnesty International Portugal executive director Pedro Neto said.
The portrait was carved on a wall of the Panoramic of Monsanto in Lisbon, which between today and Sunday hosts the festival Iminente, dedicated to music and urban art and which has in Vhils one of its mentors. The idea of the artist, he explained, “was to try to pay homage to the legacy, history and all the message and incredible work” that Marielle Franco did.
During the festival, the mural – which can be visited later, when the Panoramic of Monsanto is again open to the public as a viewpoint – “will be accompanied by a video work”, in which “work, interviews and archival material are recovered” “by Marielle Franco,” in order to draw attention and prolong its work, its legacy. ”
In today’s Brazil, where a “very tense situation” is experienced and “a series of issues are raised that are sensitive and worrying,” Vhils points out that “it is important to have these people who have this mission to draw attention to many of the problems that exists”.
Although this is not the first mural of the “Brave Walls” project in Portugal – there is another one in Leiria, invigorated by local artists and the local group of Amnesty International Portugal, “Vhils being an internationally renowned artist, a more sound, broader international reach, “said Pedro Neto.
The mural is unveiled at a time when six months of the murder of Marielle Franco and Amnesty are “not going to let this tragedy be forgotten”. “So that justice can be done and that, with this, we can give hope, both to the family, to Monica [Marielle’s partner], and to all those who defend Human Rights in Brazil and who put their cause of this, “said Pedro Neto.
Marielle Franco, a black and lesbian woman, born in a slum complex in Rio de Janeiro and a left-wing activist from the Socialist and Freedom Party (PSOL), stood out for denouncing abuses by police forces in the favelas and for defending human rights. At 38 she was murdered.
The executive director of Amnesty International Portugal remembers her as “a voice with a very great clarity”.
“A woman who was born in a favela made a remarkable career. She was a councilwoman, the sixth most voted in Rio de Janeiro, and did her job in defense of those who had no voice and those who lost their lives just because they lived in Rio “he recalled.
In Marielle, “what most enchants” Pedro Neto is that “she did not take parties”.
“He did not take sides in the field, he was in favor of conciliation and peace. His master’s thesis, he dedicated it to police officers who were also murdered because of the violence in Rio,” he said.
The man even comes to compare Marielle with another human rights advocate: “it almost reminds me of Nelson Mandela, but in a female version and in Brazil.”